The Medical Minute: Pipes in the brain as treatment for aneurysms

December 9, 2011 By Kevin Cockcroft
Pipes in the brain as treatment for aneurysms
Cerebral aneurysm

Brain aneurysms are balloon-like out-pouchings that can develop off of brain arteries. Like balloons, these out-pouchings can burst causing a devastating type of stroke as blood leaks in and around the brain. Many years ago brain aneurysms could only be treated with a major, invasive surgical procedure that involved opening the skull and working around the folds of the brain to place a metal clip across the base of the aneurysm. This procedure usually took several hours, required a hospital stay of about a week and often left patients out of work for several weeks. In recent years, minimally invasive brain aneurysm treatment called aneurysm coil embolization or aneurysm coiling has become increasingly popular.

During an aneurysm coiling procedure, doctors introduce a into an artery in the upper leg through a small, quarter-inch incision. This catheter is guided up into an artery in the neck that is feeding the brain. From there, a smaller, thinner micro-catheter (about the size of a thin piece of spaghetti) is directed into the itself. Fine, soft loops of platinum wire called are then placed inside the aneurysm to close it off. While this procedure works well for many types of brain aneurysms, some large aneurysms or ones with a broad or wide base can be very difficult to completely and permanently treat in this manner.

Penn State Hershey Medical Center recently became only the second hospital in Pennsylvania and one of only about 30 institutions in the country to start using a revolutionary new, minimally-invasive device to treat brain aneurysms. This new device called Pipeline is a specialized kind of stent or mesh-like tube that is placed in the artery that harbors the aneurysm. The device channels blood away from the aneurysm causing the aneurysm to seal off.

The Pipeline device is part of a novel class of devices, called flow-diverters, to be FDA-approved for patient use in the United States. Pipeline provides a new method to successfully treat these challenging broad-based aneurysms. Placement of a Pipeline device is accomplished in a way very similar to the coil embolization procedure in that catheters are guided through the patient’s to the aneurysm. However, instead of placing any material in the aneurysm itself, the Pipeline device is placed in the artery adjacent to the aneurysm. The length of the procedure varies depending on the complexity of the aneurysm, but many treatments can be accomplished in two to three hours. Patients usually stay in the hospital for one or two days and recovery time is short, with many people returning to work within a week or two. Only certain large or giant aneurysms can be treated with this technique, and since the device is left in a brain artery, patients must take a combination of blood thinning drugs for several months after the procedure until the device has fully healed into the artery.

Explore further: Jefferson neurosurgeons using new liquid treatment for wide-neck brain aneurysm

More information: More information about aneurysms is available here.

Related Stories

New treatment option for ruptured brain aneurysms

August 25, 2009

Researchers in Finland have identified an effective new treatment option for patients who have suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm, a potentially life-threatening event. Results of the new study on stent-assisted coil embolization ...

The Medical Minute: New treatment of brain aneurysms

October 7, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center recently became only the third hospital in Pennsylvania and one of only about 30 institutions in the country to offer a new minimally invasive treatment for brain ...

Treating complex brain aneurysms without open surgery

January 19, 2011

A new device to treat brain aneurysms with stents improves access to the blood vessels allowing endovascular neurosurgeons to offer the minimally invasive technique to patients with complex cases. Dr. Demetrius Lopes, an ...

Recommended for you

Team makes Zika drug breakthrough

August 29, 2016

A team of researchers from Florida State University, Johns Hopkins University and the National Institutes of Health has found existing drug compounds that can both stop Zika from replicating in the body and from damaging ...

Zika virus may persist in the vagina days after infection

August 25, 2016

The Zika virus reproduces in the vaginal tissue of pregnant mice several days after infection, according to a study by Yale researchers. From the genitals, the virus spreads and infects the fetal brain, impairing fetal development. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.